Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Normal? Sort of? And What You Didn't Know About PPD

So, first things first... Now that life is settling down I can, for the first time in about 8.5 months begin to feel a sort of normal. Not that I am back to normal or that life is like it was before Amelia, but instead, I actually have a regular life and routine. I couldn't even REMEMBER what it was like to have a normal job and come home and have an evening. Now I am starting to remember it and it's paving the way for me to be supremely bored sometimes in the evening (which is awesome!). In all the chaos, it's like I forgot how life could be. And, as you know, there has been lots of chaos.

It's also paving the way for me to get back to tapering off my meds and for me to identify what the issues are that I'm having that aren't related to huge stressors. For example, I sometimes feel anxious in the evening for no particular reason. But, I now see that I felt a small amount of anxiety in the evenings before I was pregnant. When I lived in Indiana I attributed it to not living where I wanted to. When I had my last job, I attributed it to not being happy in my job. Now, I have no specific reasons and I've learned a lot about coping and I understand my feelings more and I'm able to see that this might just be who I am. Or, I'll have to find another way to cope like I did before by throwing myself into sewing, fashion, and knitting. Only problem, is that this time, I don't have much time and while I would say my daughter is my new hobby, a lot of my anxiety revolves around her.

Which brings me to my second point. I learned something new about post-partum depression/anxiety. I started attending a new "Post Partum Stress" support group run by a local therapist. Weirdly, the people in the group did not identify with having PPD or post-partum anxiety. I totally took it for granted that they would know what it was, understand that it includes anxiety and all kinds of weird stress stuff and accept that they have it. Instead, it was a room full of women who thought they didn't qualify for PPD, but who actually do. So I guess it's like me in the beginning. I didn't think I had it because I didn't feel depressed or detached from my baby.

And this is what I learned at the group. Apparently it can go the other way, too. You can actually feel MORE attached to your baby than you thought and THAT causes a lot of anxiety. And when the therapist said this it was like a light bulb turned on. It resonated to true to me. I feel WAY more attached to Amelia than I thought I would. I have trouble leaving her other than for work. I was happy to go to work and get away a little, but when I'm home on the weekend and in the evenings I often feel like I need to be around her constantly. In the evenings in particular, my anxiety is heightened and sometimes I worry about sleep, especially if I had a bad night recently. And I fear the idea of leaving her and my safe, comfy home, and being anywhere else because I'd be away from her and because it might interfere with my sleep and my routine.

When she was a very tiny infant, I was constantly afraid I was doing something wrong, and that she couldn't communicate to us that something was wrong or wouldn't because she's so easy-going. I was always concerned about her when I knew in my head everything was perfectly fine. It's a weird dichotomy, and apparently one that is VERY common in PPD. You know everything is fine. You know you are saying/doing/thinking something unreasonable, yet you really have trouble letting it go. And it gets worse during stressful times (e.g. moving). I wish more people knew about this type of manifestation of Post Partum Depression. I wonder how many people it could help.

But, for me, the stress is decreasing and I am getting back to normal. Oh what a long journey it has been! Thinking through the last 8 months it just boggles my mind all I've gone through.

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